Speaking at the British University International Liaison Association conference (#BUILA15), Healey pointed out that while mobile students have increased globally in the last two decades, so have higher education enrolments.
“The percentage of total higher education enrolments that are mobile has stayed constant over the past twenty years,” he told delegates, arguing that TNE isn’t necessarily an either/or scenario.
“You can’t serve Big Macs in India, they’ve got to be made out of lamb”
Rather, TNE can be used as a gateway to study at institutions in the UK if the correct partnerships are established, explained Healey.
Supporting his claims, Vangelis Tsiligiris, presented findings from his 2014 report for the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education which show that TNE doesn’t take away from traditional enrolment channels.
“TNE students and mobile students are two different markets,” explained Tsiligiris. “TNE is growing much faster because it is a new trend and there is less competition.”
For the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China make up 50% of the TNE market. Growth in the TNE markets in these countries has grown by 76% since 2008, while corresponding inbound numbers to UK HE have declined only slightly.
Tsiligiris underlined that a decrease in outbound numbers from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore is attributable to government strategies to retain talent more than TNE.
Both Healey and Tsiligiris advised delegates to keep the local context in mind when creating syllabus and price strategies.
“Don’t just look at cost [to the university] but also price [in the local market],” said Tsiligiris.
Healey meanwhile underlined the need for contextualisation in TNE, a concept he says US universities haven’t quite mastered. “US TNE doesn’t contextualise its offering so it’s harder to scale the same way as UK universities have,” he said, using the example of requiring students in Qatar to study Texas history.
“TNE students and mobile students are two different markets”
“You can’t serve Big Macs in India, they’ve got to be made out of lamb,” he concluded.
Ruth Moir, assistant principal in international development at Heriot-Watt University echoed Healey and Tsiligiris’s comments in a later session.
With international branch campuses in Dubai and Malaysia, Moir said that fee policies can be a “tricky area” when encouraging student mobility between foreign campuses and the UK.
Currently, students pay the local price but the university is working to establish a more equal price scale she said.
She added that the Heriot-Watt experience supports Tsiligiris’s findings that TNE enhances international activity rather than inhibits it.
“Heriot-Watt hasn’t seen a drop in UK applications due to the branch campuses, but an opening up of previously untapped markets.”